Roger Winemiller has lost two adult children to heroin overdoses, and he's scared of losing another son, Roger T. Winemiller. In the background of the story rests the family farm, which fate may deposit in the hands of an uncertain recovering heroin addict.
“Would I like to have one of my kids working the farm, side by side, carrying my load when I can’t?” Mr. Winemiller told Healy. “Yes. But I’m a realist.”
Healy takes time to really soak up the details of Wayne Township and the surrounding southwest Ohio region — the epicenter of the heroin overdose crisis in America.
In rural Wayne Township, where the Winemillers and about 4,900 other people live, the local fire department answered 18 overdose calls last year. Firefighters answered three in one week this winter, and said the spikes and lulls in their overdose calls gave them a feel for when particularly noxious batches of drugs were brought out to the countryside from Cincinnati or Dayton.
They get overdose calls for people living inside the Edenton Rural School, a shuttered brick schoolhouse where officers have cleared away signs of meth production and found the flotsam of drug use on the floors.
“I don’t think we’re winning the battle,” said David Moulden, the fire chief. “It gives you a hopelessness.”
Indeed, while the crisis has impacted the more densely populated counties like Cuyahoga, the state's more rural areas are left with fewer resources to combat the same problem. And with the planting season right around the corner, Roger Winemiller will have no time to fight the battle on behalf of his son.
It's a powerful story, though the sense of dread and hopelessness peers around every sentence.
It's not for nothing that NBC also met with the Winemillers. Their story is emblematic of the new reality of broken homes — families torn apart by heroin, with no sign of this problem slowing down.